DWP ‘Equality Analysis for Reinstatement of Benefit Sanctions and Conditionality’

See post ‘JSA & Universal Credit: No Work Search #BenefitSanctions from 30 June 2020 until millions of claimants “accept a new or revised Claimant Commitment”, the DWP has recruited thousands of new Work Coaches, Jobcentre and local Covid19 restrictions are lifted

JSA & Universal Credit: No Work Search #BenefitSanctions from 30 June 2020 until millions of claimants “accept a new or revised Claimant Commitment”, the DWP has recruited thousands of new Work Coaches, Jobcentre and local Covid19 restrictions are lifted.

[ Need benefit advice? Check advicelocal.uk and for UC Claimant Commitments go to claimantcommitments.org.uk ]

There is evidence that the DWP is still operating a ‘light touch element‘ [1] to Universal Credit, which manifests itself by Work Search requirements still not being commitments claimants must accept, which suggests related sanctions are in effect “very rare”. This can only be officiall confired when the next benefit sanctions stats will be out in November, but they will only cover the month of July when sanctions apparently got reinstated at the end of June.

Factors that effect the DWP’s ability to add more benefit sanctions related commitments to benefit claims, are the lack of face to face appointments at Jobcentres, localised covid19 restrictions, with Jobcentre managers having obligations to restrict footfall access to Jobcentres on the basis of Health andSafety during a pandemic. As well as many Jobcentre Work Coaches still working from home and the DWP having to recruit 13,500 new Coaches due to the highest level of unemployment since the 1980’s. The DWP is still operating a Universal Credit policy that contact with claimants is digital by default, with existing and new claims being managed through claimant’s online accounts, over the phone with email and sms/text reminders. [2]

Yesterday the DWP released it ‘Equality Analysis for Reinstatement of Conditionality‘, which confirms:

“26. Between 30th June 2020 and the date that a claimant accepts a new or
revised claimant commitment, they will be expected to do what they
reasonably can to search for and be available for work. Claimants will not be
subject to sanctions for failing to comply with these obligations until they
accept their new or revised claimant commitment”

This supports the ‘reality on the ground‘ [3] that millions of claimants have a claimant commitment that predates 30th June 2020 and as such, to reiterate, they will not be “subject to sanctions for failing to comply with these obligations until they accept their new or revised claimant commitment”, even though the DWP is expecting claimants “to do what they
reasonably can to search for and be available for work”.

What about conditionality and Benefit Sanctions for clinically vulnerable or extremely clinically vulnerable?

“All claimants (including those who are clinically vulnerable or extremely
clinically vulnerable) who are subject to conditionality will only be required to
undertake agreed, reasonable, work related activities that are consistent
with government advice on social distancing.

The reinstatement of conditionality will not have a disproportionate impact
on the basis of disability, but will be equally applied to all claimants.”

DWP ‘Equality Analysis for Reinstatement of Conditionality‘ – 26 June 2020

Footnotes

[1] Video clip source https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/2d0d9a4b-4da3-449d-9f03-245c56f8e727?in=11:13:37

[2] “The reapplication of conditionality will be applied to all claimants in line with
existing legislation; but work coaches will also take into account any
Government guidelines on Covid-19, i.e. self-isolation, as well as any wider
impacts that affect the claimant’s individual circumstances and what the
claimant can now do i.e. closure or restricted access to facilities and
businesses.

As we reintroduce conditionality, in line with remaining Covid-19 guidelines
i.e. social distancing, we will utilise other delivery channels in order to
engage effectively with all claimant groups. This will include the use of
telephony and digital communications as well as a face to face offer.”


DWP ‘Equality Analysis for Reinstatement of Conditionality‘ – 26 June 2020

[3] https://twitter.com/cjayanetti/status/1310967832386170881 Tweet archive https://web.archive.org/web/20200930094637/https://twitter.com/cjayanetti/status/1310967832386170881

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Exclusive: DWP updates ESA claim form and adds “consent* to notify GP of outcome of WCA (medical consent) section”. Now easy to stop the DWP telling GP to not to issue ‘fit-notes’ and protect your Patient-Doctor relationship (Aug 27th, 2020) * “alternate versions and GDPR”

“27 August 2020

Edited ESA claim form you can download, fill in on screen, save and then print. Updates include changes to contact phone numbers, alternate versions and GDPR. Added consent to notify GP of outcome of WCA (medical consent) section.”
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/employment-and-support-allowance-claim-form#history

Related: ‘Claimants can now stop DWP telling GPs to “no longer” issue ‘sick notes’ and protect their Patient-Doctor relationship. After DWP updates Data Protection consent rights for ‘Capability for Work’ assessments. (Aug 10th, 2020)

Background:

Tories remove disability and health data consent rights – on first day as new Gov. #ESA65B #ESA50 #ESA1 #UC50‘ [23,093 page views of this post on 17/12/19]

ICO forces DWP to require claimant consent (“opt-in”) before #ESA65B ‘fit-note’ letters can be sent to GPs‘ [Posted on July 9, 2019]

YOU can prevent the DWP interfering in the patient/doctor’s relationship


Universal Credit: Get ready for more harassment and #BenefitSanctions, as Jobcentres to open on Saturdays and weekdays 8am till 8pm from November

The DWP is requiring Jobcentre Work ‘Coaches’ to work on Saturdays and Weekdays from 8am till 8pm from November. Claimants will soon get even more ‘Coach’ harassment, not just with millions and millions of Digital Nudges (“digital interventions”) via email, text and phone but mandatory requirements to attend a Jobcentre in the dark and cold nights of winter or face severe financial penalties (benefit sanctions) for not doing so.

Related: ‘Universal Credit: DWP sending millions and millions of ‘digital nudges’ to claimants, to search for and apply for work that does not exist, pays zero-wages, could put them at risk of coronavirus or face #BenefitSanctions for failing to do so – #workfare‘ + ‘Absurd as 2.3 million Universal Credit claimants required to chase “90,939 Jobs” on DWP Jobsite‘ and ‘Universal Credit requires 2.3 million claimants make at least 16 million job applications every week, whilst only 300 thousand* UK Job Vacancies exist or face #BenefitSanctions – *ONS figures Apr – Jun 2020

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Universal Credit: DWP sending millions and millions of ‘digital nudges’ to claimants, to search for and apply for work that does not exist, pays zero-wages, could put them at risk of coronavirus or face #BenefitSanctions for failing to do so – #workfare

Related: Absurd as 2.3 million Universal Credit claimants required to chase “90,939 Jobs” on DWP Jobsite‘ and ‘DWP Secretary of State @theresecoffey expects #BenefitSanctions to be “very rare” under new Claimant Commitment “light touch” regime

The DWP has released a copy of it’s internal guidance for Jobcentre ‘Work Coaches’, that suggests the DWP seems to be using a more ‘light touch’ conditionality regime for Universal Credit claimants. The guidance covers telephone appointments to create Claimant Commitments, that if not adhered can result in severe financial penalties (benefit sanctions) and how Work Search reviews should be undertaken during the coronavirus crisis.

The guidance on Work Search goes into great detail of how ‘coaches’ can use claimant’s UC accounts to incessantly nudge millions of people, with “digital interventions”, to search and apply for work that does not exist, is inappropriate, requires working unlawfully for more than 48 hours, expects them to work for zero-wages (workfare) or could put them at risk of coronavirus.

“Work coaches must update the claimant’s journal with a tailored digital nudge…
The work coach may consider at this point if future digital interventions are suitable for the claimant”

Examples of how the DWP is tying itself in knots, is how it is dealing with telephone based appointments that should be “10 minutes only” and “If the claimant does not answer the phone, the work coach must book a work search review by phone (giving the claimant at least 32 hours’ notice)”

Light Touch regime with sanctions being “rare”?

Benefit Sanctions to be “very rare”, under a newer “light touch” Claimant Commitment  regime‘?
https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/2d0d9a4b-4da3-449d-9f03-245c56f8e727?in=10:18:41

It has not been possible to find clear evidence that the DWP actually has a “light touch” conditionality regime that could mean benefit sanctions are “rare”, but in the released documents it does say:

Work coaches should not take any action if the claimant has not met all their work related requirements, but can show a reasonable level of activity“.

Problem with the DWP is what is and is not “a reasonable level of activity” is not defined.

Get local help and support with Universal Credit via https://advicelocal.uk and check out UC claimantcommitments.org.uk

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Absurd as 2.3 million Universal Credit claimants required to chase “90,939 Jobs” on DWP Jobsite (findajob.dwp.gov.uk)

It is absurd to require 2.3 million Universal Credit claimants to search for work up to 35 hours per week, or face severse financial penalties (benefit sanctions), when the DWP itself is only able to get UK employers to advertise just 90,939 jobs on it’s own website.

All UC claimants are required to accept a Claimant Commitment (CC) and this will include sanction based obligations to search for and prepare for work. It is highly probable that nearly all of the 2.3 million claimants will have a CC requirement to evidence creating a DWP ‘Find A Job’ (FAJ), uploading their CV to it and then using it to search and apply for work through FAJ.

Help with FindAJob.dwp.gov.uk
https://twitter.com/FindAJobDWP

Archive of findajob.dpw.gov.uk for Monday August 24th, 2020
90,939 Jobs in UK
https://web.archive.org/web/20200824095905/https://findajob.dwp.gov.uk/search

Resources

Neil Couling: We talk about work search being a full-time activity. When we have conditionality operating…we ask for 35 hours’ job search a week from claimants of universal credit. Therefore, the mentality mirrors the world of work.
You are paid after you have done the work, not before you have done it”
Select Committee on Economic Affairs – Uncorrected oral evidence: The economics of universal credit – Tuesday 2 June 2020

“In most cases, you will need to complete up to 35 hours of work search activity per week in order to receive Universal Credit”
Universal Credit and you – Updated 6 April 2020

People on Universal Credit
On 9 July 2020:

there were 5.6 million people on Universal Credit

around 42% of claimants were in the ‘Searching for work’ conditionality group, an increase of 6 percentage points since March 2020″iversal Credit at 9 July 2020, an increase of 2% from 11 June 2020

Published 11 August 2020
Universal Credit Statistics – 29 April 2013 to 9 July 2020

35 hours a week Jobsearch Tool
“2 hours per day” phoning employers
Search on jobsites “1 to 2 hours per day”
https://scottishunemployedworkers.net/universal-credit/

Briefings on Benefit Sanctions
https://cpag.org.uk/policy-and-campaigns/briefing/david-webster-university-glasgow-briefings-benefit-sanction

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Universal Credit requires 2.3 million claimants make at least 16 million job applications every week, whilst only 300 thousand* UK Job Vacancies exist or face #BenefitSanctions – *ONS figures Apr – Jun 2020

Live ONS figures show there are approximately 300 thousand job vacancies, between April and June 2020. At July 9th 2020 Universal Credit (UC) has 5.6 million people claiming, of which 2,350,000 have a Work Search obligation (42%).

If each individual claimant, of these 42% (2,350,000), apply for one job a day (7), then that means more than 16 million job applications can be made in one week, every week whilst claiming UC. However, UC has a default expectation that claimants spend 35 hours per week on Work Search so there could well be far more than 16 million applications in any one week. Claimants who fail to evidence this 35 hours a week expectation face severe financial penalties (Benefit Sanctions).

“In most cases, you will need to complete up to 35 hours of work search activity per week in order to receive Universal Credit”
Universal Credit and you – Updated 6 April 2020

People on Universal Credit
On 9 July 2020:

  • there were 5.6 million people on Universal Credit at 9 July 2020, an increase of 2% from 11 June 2020
  • around 42% of claimants were in the ‘Searching for work’ conditionality group, an increase of 6 percentage points since March 2020″

Published 11 August 2020
Universal Credit Statistics – 29 April 2013 to 9 July 2020

Neil Couling: We talk about work search being a full-time activity. When we have conditionality operating…we ask for 35 hours’ job search a week from claimants of universal credit. Therefore, the mentality mirrors the world of work.
You are paid after you have done the work, not before you have done it”
Select Committee on Economic Affairs – Uncorrected oral evidence: The economics of universal credit – Tuesday 2 June 2020

Example of just one day’s Work Search activity
https://pastebin.com/FxZFceu2
Source: Chapter J3: Work-related https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/advice-for-decision-making-staff-guide

35 hours a week Jobsearch Tool
“2 hours per day” phoning employers
Search on jobsites “1 to 2 hours per day”
Screenshot_2020-08-13 35-hours-a-week-jobsearch-tool jpg (JPEG Image, 788 × 510 pixels)
Source: https://scottishunemployedworkers.net/universal-credit/

Briefings on Benefit Sanctions
https://cpag.org.uk/policy-and-campaigns/briefing/david-webster-university-glasgow-briefings-benefit-sanction

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Commission publishes proposals for a better Welfare Benefits system, including a £222 per week Guaranteed Decent Income and no #BenefitSanctions

The Commission on Social Security* has started a public consultation on it’s proposals for
a better Welfare Benefits system, you can take a survey** on the proposals at:
http://www.commissiononsocialsecurity.org/
(The deadline is 30 September 2020)

Highlight “There should be no sanctions”

* “The project is led by Experts by Experience. This means that all the people on the panel (the Commissioners) have lived experience of benefits”

** Below are details and extracts taken from the Survey (ideas and proposals), with full details of the Commissioners 5 principles, Important Points and the Guaranteed Decent Income.
[ My comments are in green text, enclosed by brackets ]

———————————————

“The ideas for a better benefits system are based on 5 principles.

The Commissioners identified the 5 principles.

The principles received a lot of support in the Commission’s Call for Solutions.

The 5 principles are:

  1. Make sure everyone has enough money to live – and support extra costs, e.g. to do with disability and children.
  2. Treat everyone with dignity, respect and trust, and the belief that people should be able to choose for themselves.
  3. Be a public service with rights and entitlements.
  4. Be clear, user friendly and accessible to all, involving people who have actual experience of the issues, from all impairment groups, in creating and running the system as a whole.
  5. Include access to free advice and support. Make sure people can access support to speak up, be heard or make a complaint.”

[ Below are some extracts from of the Commission’s survey questions (ideas), each question asks if you Agree Strongly,  Agree,  Disagree,  Disagree Strongly or Don’t Know. ]

“1. Important Points

  • There should be no sanctions (this means when benefits are stopped or suspend)
  • There should be no 2-child limit (the 2-child limit means the child element of Universal Credit and tax credits are only paid for 2 children even if you have more)
  • There should be no conditions to receiving benefits, for example ‘back to work’, job-search or other DWP schemes’
  • There should be no bedroom tax (the bedroom tax means people in council or social housing who have what is considered a spare bedroom have their housing benefit/housing element of Universal Credit reduced)
  • Benefit rates should be increased each year
  • Payments should be made to the individual not the household
  • Entitlement should apply equally to adults aged 18 to pension age

These important points would be for all benefits, but applied to each benefit individually as appropriate”

[ There are ideas for a ‘Guaranteed Decent Income’, with other ideas on Child Benefit, Disability Benefit, Carer’s Allowance, Refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants, Investment in Social Security for All and Links with other areas. ]

[ The ideas on a ‘Guaranteed Decent Income’ ] :

“The Commissioners’ idea is to have a Guaranteed Decent Income so everyone has a secure, reasonable amount of money coming in.

  1. The Guaranteed Decent Income would replace Universal Credit, Employment Support Allowance, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Working Tax Credits.
  2. The Guaranteed Decent Income would be £222 per week for a single adult and £322 per week for a couple (the Guaranteed Decent Income idea draws upon information in the New Economic Foundation’s Minimum Income Guarantee. It also draws on the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Minimum Income Standards about what amount of money is needed for an acceptable standard of living).
  3. For couples, any payment would be split equally between the two partners and paid separately to each partner.

    This means if you are a single adult and your income – from work, self-employment or benefits other than Child Benefit and Disability Benefit – ever falls below £222 per week, you would have your income topped-up to that amount.

    If you are a couple and your joint income – from work, self-employment or benefits other than Child Benefit and Disability Benefit – ever falls below £322 per week, you would have your income topped-up to that figure. For couples, joint income would be assessed but any payment would be split equally between the two partners and paid separately to each partner.

  4. The Guaranteed Decent Income would give extra income for those caring for children, (called a “dependent children addition”).
  5. Extra income for disability (called a “disability addition”).
  6. Extra income for those in long term unemployment (called a “long-term unemployment addition”).
  7. Extra income towards rents, mortgages and local tax. This would replace all current rent, mortgage and local tax support schemes.
  8. No deductions of any kind.
  9. Savings, (capital) etc. ignored.
  10. Be paid from day one so no waiting for 5 weeks.
  11. No job-search or work-related conditions.
  12. Child Benefit and Disability Benefit totally separate.
  13. Apply equally to adults aged 18 to pension age (16-17 year olds to be included in the existing definition of ‘adult’).
  14. A work allowance of £512 per month (this is how much could be earned before the Guaranteed Decent Income would start to be reduced) and a taper rate of 45% (the taper rate is the rate at which the Guaranteed Decent Income would be reduced as earnings increase above the Work Allowance. A taper rate of 45% means you would lose 45p of every £1 you earned over the Work Allowance. The Universal Credit taper is much worse at 63%).

More information is below.

What do you think of the Guaranteed Decent Income idea?

If you disagree with any of points 1 to 14 please write the numbers in this box and say what would be a better idea.

The Guaranteed Decent Income is like Universal Basic Income (UBI) because both are secured, have no job-search or work-related conditionality and are and paid on an individual basis.

It is different to UBI because Commissioners prefer as much money as possible goes to those who need it most. Using means-testing ensures money does not go to those who already have a decent income level. Commissioners believe National Insurance Contribution benefits have a part in the system. But as they are based only on paid employment they discriminate against people who can’t work, women and young people.

Commissioners believe income not vouchers should always be used. Vouchers reduce independence and choice. Technical points: private sector rents would be calculated at the 50th percentile. Local tax support (Council Tax in England, Scotland and Wales, and Rates in Northern Ireland) would be paid to the local authority.”

 

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Claimants can now stop DWP telling GPs to “no longer” issue ‘sick notes’ and protect their Patient-Doctor relationship. After DWP updates Data Protection consent rights for ‘Capability for Work’ assessments. (Aug 10th, 2020)

Related: Tories remove disability and health data consent rights
on first day as new Gov – December 17, 2019

The DWP has just published a new version of it’s ESA50 (8/20) ‘capability for work questionnaire‘, that now includes “updated information on how the Department for Work and Pensions collects and uses information”.

The new ESA50 requires claimant consent before their GP is notified “of the outcome of the Work Capability Assessment”,  by the DWP sending GPs the infamous ESA65B letter.(extract below)

The Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR required the DWP to make these changes May 2018, but they did not do so until interventions by the Information Commissioner (ICO). It is worth noting organisations like the British Medical Association and Royal College of General Practitioners never took any action to highlight or require these Data Protection obligations to be complied with.*

The Z2K Trust ran a ‘scrap the letters‘ campaign, for the ESA65B to be completely expunged from existence and for no alternatives to be used, as it fundamentally inteferes with the PatientDoctor relationship.

Extract: New ESA50 section:

Consent to notify your GP of the outcome of the Work Capability Assessment

DWP would like to share its decision based on the result of your Work Capability Assessment (WCA) with your doctor, or any doctor treating you. This will help the doctor, as it will tell them when they no longer need to provide you with Statements of Fitness for Work (also known as fit notes or medical certificates) for the purposes of this claim.

We need your agreement to share this information.

You do not have to give your agreement. If you do not agree, it will not affect your claim for ESA. We will keep a record of the decision you make.

You can withdraw your agreement at any time before the medical assessment takes place by calling DWP on 0800 169 0310.

If you contact us after the assessment it may be too l

ate, as we may have already made a decision and shared it. If you withdraw your agreement, we will not share the decision based on the outcome of your WCA with your doctor

I agree to my doctor, or any other doctor treating me, being informed about the result of my Work Capability Assessment

No

Yes

Screenshot_2020-08-10 ESA50 - esa-50-capability-for-work-questionnaire pdf

*These ESA50 changes initiated after a March 2019 Data Protection complaint to the ICO. The complaint was made in relation to:

Netherley dad James Harrison DIES 10 months after DWP tell his GP not to write any more sick notes‘ (29 DEC 2016)  > Video: James Harrison’s furious daughter Abbie says Job Centre bosses interfered in the doctor-patient relationship  (Source: stop-pip.org)

abbie

“…he was sanctioned to death by the DWP”
+ ‘Daughter’s fury after DWP tell doctors not to write sick note for dying father‘ (29 DEC 2016), Jobcentre ‘secretly told dying man’s GP to stop giving him sick notes’ (29 Dec 2016) and ‘Jobcentre tells GP to stop issuing sick notes to patient assessed as ‘fit for work’ and he died‘ (December 2016). Together with responses to subsequent Freedom of Information Act requests,  [30/12/16 & 18/1/17]

and following discussions with @pennyanderson1, @AnitaBellows12 and @AmateurFOI
https://mrfrankzola.wordpress.com/2017/02/16/do-not-tell-gp-outcome-of-your-work-capability-assessment-wca-donotconsent/

Background

“we have in fact contacted DWP about the issues you raised with us. We took the view that DWP has not complied with its data protection obligations, because its  ESA1, ESA50 and UC50 forms do not provide a way for claimants opt in to the statement “I agree to my doctor or any doctor treating me, being informed* about the Secretary of State’s determination on limited capability for work, limited capability for work-related activity, or both…
*[Doctors are “informed” by use of the DWP ESA65B ‘fit-notes’ letter]
ICO response to March 2019 complaint

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Benefit Sanctions: Strategy for civil society

The Public Law Project (PLP) and the University of York have published a short-form strategy for civil society organisations working to improve the system.

Strategies

  • A new review of the legality of the scheme
    “…evidence that the sanctions regime has discriminatory effects on particular groups…evidence that the system’s results are counterproductively ineffective at achieving its stated aim of encouraging claimants into work, and its potential human rights and equality implications”
  • A forum for sharing frontline experiences
  •  An information campaign on claimant commitment & challenging sanctions
  • Press the DWP for more and better data

Download: ‘Benefit Sanctions:Strategies for Civil Society‘ – (5 page pdf)

The PLP  also offer support to those supporting claimants challenge Benefit Sanctions, they can be contacted via: sanctions@publiclawproject.org.uk

Claimant Commitments (CC) are the core DWP method to impose benefit sanction based conditionality, the PLP has created a website to support Universal Credit claimants with CCs: ‘Universal Credit: Sanctions and your claimant commitment’ @ https://claimantcommitments.org.uk/

Source: https://publiclawproject.org.uk/uncategorized/benefit-sanctions-strategy-for-civil-society/

Reminder that ALL Benefit Sanctions should be scrapped without exception and in perpetuity, anything else is to defend sanctions as ALL are punitive.

Related

Sanctions for the poor, runaway rewards for the rich
It’s time to end sanctions and review the balance of rights and duties across society.

Sanctions for the poor, runaway rewards for the rich

Confirmation: No Benefit Sanctions applied in July 2020? https://mrfrankzola.wordpress.com/2020/08/01/no-benefit-sanctions-in-july-2020/

 

 

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